Jessica Levine's well researched novel takes readers into the hearts of young Americans living in Italy and France twenty-five years ago. Nothing Forgotten suggests that what we think we see may not be real.
It is not a mystical story, though the raw reality is so well hidden that Anna and Michael's family and best friends are shocked as their marriage unravels. Her long-ago lover starts sending her emails from out of the blue—this prompts the final decline. Anna thought she had put Sergio out of her mind forever but now she cannot stop thinking about him. She and Michael's communication had already degraded to frequent heated arguments, followed by tired apologies and regret. Michael's charms have long become small irritations which rapidly escalate into contempt. Their young teen daughter, Esther, feels their tension with much despair and insecurity. She does not want to be a child of divorce like so many of her friends.
Anna's Italian boyfriend, Sergio, is the classic Italian lover. At the time of their relationship, he was her supervisor and betrothed to Olivia, a lovely Italian girl in his home town. I couldn't help thinking while reading that if this were a memoir rather than fiction, it could have been another "me, too" case. He takes her home on week-ends to meet his fiancée, Olivia, a sweet and trusting soul. They become friends, and Anna hates herself for deceiving her.
The author's strength is in her descriptions of place and time, as well as her character development. She creates a believable, though improbable plot. But then we all know real life is often stranger than fiction. This is a richly detailed story of passion and failure, deception and honesty, with anticipation and nostalgia. It is about making hard choices and living with those decisions, and the twisted ties that hold a family together.
Nothing Forgotten is Jessica Levine's second novel.
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